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Binay vs Domingo Case Digest

Equal Protection Clause, General Welfare Clause, Police Power, Powers of Municipal Corporations

Facts:

Petitioner Municipality of Makati, through its Council, approved Resolution No. 60 which
extends P500 burial assistance to bereaved families whose gross family income does
not exceed P2,000.00 a month. The funds are to be taken out of the unappropriated
available funds in the municipal treasury. The Metro Manila Commission approved the
resolution. Thereafter, the municipal secretary certified a disbursement of P400,000.00
for the implementation of the program. However, the Commission on Audit disapproved
said resolution and the disbursement of funds for the implementation thereof for the
following reasons: (1) the resolution has no connection to alleged public safety, general
welfare, safety, etc. of the inhabitants of Makati; (2) government funds must be
disbursed for public purposes only; and, (3) it violates the equal protection clause since
it will only benefit a few individuals.

Issues:

1. Whether Resolution No. 60 is a valid exercise of the police power under the general
welfare clause
2. Whether the questioned resolution is for a public purpose
3. Whether the resolution violates the equal protection clause

Held:

1. The police power is a governmental function, an inherent attribute of sovereignty,


which was born with civilized government. It is founded largely on the maxims, "Sic
utere tuo et ahenum non laedas and "Salus populi est suprema lex. Its fundamental
purpose is securing the general welfare, comfort and convenience of the people.

Police power is inherent in the state but not in municipal corporations. Before a municipal corporation
may exercise such power, there must be a valid delegation of such power by the
legislature which is the repository of the inherent powers of the State.

Municipal governments exercise this power under the general welfare clause. Pursuant
thereto they are clothed with authority to "enact such ordinances and issue such
regulations as may be necessary to carry out and discharge the responsibilities
conferred upon it by law, and such as shall be necessary and proper to provide for the
health, safety, comfort and convenience, maintain peace and order, improve public
morals, promote the prosperity and general welfare of the municipality and the
inhabitants thereof, and insure the protection of property therein.

2. Police power is not capable of an exact definition but has been, purposely, veiled in
general terms to underscore its all comprehensiveness. Its scope, over-expanding to
meet the exigencies of the times, even to anticipate the future where it could be done,
provides enough room for an efficient and flexible response to conditions and
circumstances thus assuring the greatest benefits.

The police power of a municipal corporation is broad, and has been said to be
commensurate with, but not to exceed, the duty to provide for the real needs of the
people in their health, safety, comfort, and convenience as consistently as may be with
private rights. It extends to all the great public needs, and, in a broad sense includes all
legislation and almost every function of the municipal government. It covers a wide
scope of subjects, and, while it is especially occupied with whatever affects the peace,
security, health, morals, and general welfare of the community, it is not limited thereto,
but is broadened to deal with conditions which exists so as to bring out of them the
greatest welfare of the people by promoting public convenience or general prosperity,
and to everything worthwhile for the preservation of comfort of the inhabitants of the
corporation. Thus, it is deemed inadvisable to attempt to frame any definition which
shall absolutely indicate the limits of police power.

Public purpose is not unconstitutional merely because it incidentally benefits a limited number of persons. As
correctly pointed out by the Office of the Solicitor General, "the drift is towards social
welfare legislation geared towards state policies to provide adequate social services, the
promotion of the general welfare, social justice as well as human dignity and respect for
human rights." The care for the poor is generally recognized as a public duty. The
support for the poor has long been an accepted exercise of police power in the
promotion of the common good.

3. There is no violation of the equal protection clause. Paupers may be reasonably classified.
Different groups may receive varying treatment. Precious to the hearts of our
legislators, down to our local councilors, is the welfare of the paupers. Thus, statutes
have been passed giving rights and benefits to the disabled, emancipating the tenant-
farmer from the bondage of the soil, housing the urban poor, etc. Resolution No. 60,
re-enacted under Resolution No. 243, of the Municipality of Makati is a paragon of the
continuing program of our government towards social justice. The Burial Assistance
Program is a relief of pauperism, though not complete. The loss of a member of a
family is a painful experience, and it is more painful for the poor to be financially
burdened by such death. Resolution No. 60 vivifies the very words of the late President
Ramon Magsaysay 'those who have less in life, should have more in law." This decision,
however must not be taken as a precedent, or as an official go-signal for municipal
governments to embark on a philanthropic orgy of inordinate dole-outs for motives
political or otherwise. (Binay vs Domingo, G.R. No. 92389, September 11, 1991)